Leaders of Jewish organisations from around the world discuss enduring COVID-19

May 27, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Over 30 leaders of major Jewish organizations from around the world participated on Tuesday in a roundtable forum established by the Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to assess the devastating implications the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on Jewish communities worldwide and the necessary steps to address their pressing needs.

Jewish Agency for Israel chairman Isaac Herzog speaks during the Public Forum Conference on Nov. 15, 2018. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been numerous reports on the damage it has caused to Jewish communities around the world, and of the significant number of people who have died.

According to data collected by The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and The Jewish Agency for Israel, the number of people who have died in Jewish communities worldwide is in the thousands, and in many areas, Jewish institutions are completely paralyzed or in the process of collapsing.

During the meeting, the organization leaders presented an in-depth look at challenges facing the global Jewish community, the impact of the crisis, as well as opportunities and possible responses.

The organizations were represented by a president or CEO to ensure the forum includes officials with the authority to make policy decisions.

The meeting focused on five primary issues: community – the need for rehabilitation and assistance in surviving the crisis; resources –collecting and distributing aid; hope and morale – promoting unity and mutual responsibility; education – current and future needs; anti-Semitism – preparation for future outbreaks.

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog noted that “for the first time in the history of the State of Israel, we established a formal forum to assist Jewish communities around the world.”

In April, the Jewish Agency announced the establishment of the COVID-19 Loan Fund for Communities in Crisis, a $10 million fund that is providing no-interest loans to organizations providing services essential to the continuing existence of Jewish communities. Applications from over 70 countries have already been received.

After the meeting’s conclusion, Minister for Diaspora Affairs Omer Yankelevich said she was “humbled to see how Jewish communities everywhere are faring in these troubled times and how they are striving to share ideas, learn from each other’s mistakes and grow together. Their united spirit is inspiring as they work together to provide a stable platform for assistance on a regular basis.”

Organizations participating in the forum included the Jewish Federations – North America, Keren Hayesod – UIA, World Zionist Organization, ADL, Conference of Presidents, Joint Distribution Committee, Jewish National Fund, Orthodox Union, United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism, Union for Reform Judaism, World Jewish Congress, European Jewish Congress, World Union Progressive Judaism, B’nai Brith International, Claims Conference, Conference of Europeans Rabbis, Russian Jewish Congress, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Latin American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, “GIL – Global Israeli Leadership, Chabad, Hillel International, World Union of Jewish Students, Maccabi World Union, Moishe House, Commonwealth Jewish Communities, Israeli American Council, Organization of Orthodox Synagogues.

Sydney’s Steven Lowy, and Robert Goot and Melbourne’s Eitan Drori attended the forum.

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